10 things you need to know about The Championships, Wimbledon.
Wimbledon is without a doubt, one of Britain's most iconic sporting events and it's considered the world's premier Tennis tournament. Ever since I was a teenager, I have enjoyed watching the matches unfurl on TV over the 2 weeks in July.
Si and I have actually wanted to go and experience the tournament in person for a few years now and we decided quite late in 2016 that we would like to go in 2017 and so went through the Public Ballot application process. We were lucky enough to bag 2 tickets to the penultimate day of The Championships in Court 1 and so the TV was surplus to requirement - for one day at least!
Having never been, neither of us really knew what to expect but our tickets arrived with a 'ticket holder's guide' which provided some useful tips about the grounds, food and drink offerings, how to get there and what there is to see and do. With our tickets, we had access to the whole ground and were able to go in to all of the courts except Centre Court.
So here's the 10 things you need to know about The Championships, Wimbledon:
1. We travelled from Bristol on the coach and got off at Earl's Court before taking the District Tube Line out to Wimbledon. All along the way there are good directions and whilst on the tube over the tannoy, you are advised to get off at Southfields. This meant we then had a 5-10 minute walk to the grounds and again; all of this was very clearly sign posted. Walking with the crowds to the grounds you can feel the excitement and anticipation.
2. The whole place is colour coordinated in the famous Wimbledon palette of dark green and purple. Everywhere you go throughout the grounds, there are gorgeous petunias, hydrangeas and more all in purples, whites and green - it's very pretty!
3. It's a sophisticated affair with a great sense of Britishness - the dress code is semi smart and although it's not essential to dress in your 'Sunday best' - there seems to be an unspoken rule that most people adhere too.
4. Layering is definitely advised - you'd be surprised at how warm and then cold it can be even just over a few hours. Hats and sunglasses are a must. A picnic blanket to sit on is a must, or better yet, take an ordinary blanket which can also double up as a cover up when it's chilly.. In terms of bags - they have quite strict rules so make sure you adhere to them - I just used a Shopper Bag because it had minimal pockets so meant going in and out of it was quick&easy and when I needed to, I could just sling it over my shoulder.
5. Food at most of the outlets is quite expensive but there is plenty to choose from - Quick bites to eat like strawberries and cream, chicken salads, fish and chips, burgers; or if you're after something a bit more formal and want to sit down and be waited on, there's afternoon tea or a three course meal. That said - they're all about bigging up local British producers where the quality of the products are excellent so the price is justified. You could also opt out completely of buying food onsite and take in your own picnic (including drinks). The obvious place to sit and enjoy it is Murray Mound.. that said if it's raining which it was when we were there, there are places that are sheltered or if you're organised and have a brolly, just shelter under that and embrace the Great British weather.
6. Drinks are again a traditional affair - Pimms, Prosecco/Champagne/wine and beers are all available. All alcohol is served in plastic cups and can be taken in to the courts with lids to prevent spillages. There are also numerous tea and coffee outlets but most only carry just tea and coffee - to get a hot chocolate the only place I found was The Baseline Cafe. It was totally worth it though, it was a thick liquidy chocolate delight!
7. The big games are obviously excellent. Roger Federer is now one of the most successful men's players in tennis history and the Williams sisters are generally always on form but really, you should try and see the others that are going on as well! The wheelchair games are incredible, the boys and girls are the rising stars of the future and the invitation doubles are just a joy to watch - they really get the crowd involved and although they're still relatively competitive - it's nice to see the personality of the players and fun side of tennis come through. A game we watched even had the umpire come on and play and he wasn't half bad!
8. Queuing - I really think this is to be expected at any major spectator event but we found Wimbledon to be well organised and signs denoting expected wait times at peak times. That said, if you time things right you really shouldn't wait any longer than 5 minutes for anything.
9. Toilets - now this might seem a bit random but after spending years in the hospitality industry, I always judge a place by the toilets - if they're well kept, it's bound to be a good place; if not, well... Anyway I digress.. The toilets here work on a one-way system which I think is fab! So many times I've been to events where you're not sure if the people queuing are actually in the queue or just waiting for friends/family or they're just refreshing their makeup and causing congestion and confusion. Here you go in one way, there's plenty of cubicles, wash your hands and leave another way. Simple!
10. Ticket resale is a great way to try and secure a ticket for Centre Court at a great nominal price and all of the sale proceeds go to charity. You can only do this after 3pm though so you may still miss some of the biggest games but you'll still get to actually go in to the court and experience the atmosphere there.
All in all it was a fab day out and one I would totally recommend! Just being able to walk around and soak up the atmosphere and see all of the courts and Murray Mound in person, was great. We even got a cheeky glimpse of Venus and Garbine before their match and what a match it was!
It's definitely a place where dreams are made...